FRA awards $227 million to rail, transit projects

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Wisconsin's grant will cover the cost of new passenger cars, including cab cars to replace the former F40 locomotives currently used on the Hiawatha.
TRAINS: David Lassen
Eastbound Wolverine No. 350 slips through Marshall, Mich., east of Battle Creek, on Oct. 11, 2013. This area will see tie replacement thanks to a federal grant.
Bob Johnston

WASHINGTON Rolling stock acquisition, track repair, and station rehab initiatives across ten states are benefitting from a series of Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants announced by the Federal Railroad Administration last week. They include:

Thirteen coaches and facility upgrades for Piedmonts (up to $76.89 million)

The grant to North Carolina’s DOT provides funding to purchase 13 coaches that will create an additional trainset and replace some heritage cars now running on Raleigh—Charlotte, N.C., trains and an expansion of the Charlotte Locomotive and Railcar Maintenance Facility. All but running repair servicing is now done in Raleigh, so all equipment except the New York-Charlotte Carolinian’s spends each night in the state capital. The fleet additions will permit a fourth round-trip.

Six coaches and three cab coaches for Hiawathas (up to $25.7 million)

The grant to Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation effectively adds another trainset and replaces non-powered ex-F40 cab-baggage control units on two sets of Horizon and Amfleet cars currently used on the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor. Craig Thompson, Wisconsin’s DOT Secretary-designate, says in a statement, “The public will get their first glimpse of the new cars beginning in late 2020.” They are not expected to be operational until 2021 and the state’s rail division has been told by Canadian Pacific that additional frequencies cannot be added unless previously agreed upon infrastructure improvements in Illinois are made (see “CP puts damper on plans for more Hiawathas,” Trains News Wire, July 29, 2019.)

Wolverine corridor rail and tie replacement (up to $23.34 million)

Michigan DOT Office of Rail’s grant includes replacing 15 track miles of rail east of Jackson, Mich., and approximately 80,000 ties on the former Michigan Central and Norfolk Southern track it owns east of Battle Creek, Mich. This is the last remaining of right-of-way to be upgraded to 110-mph service west of Dearborn, Mich.

Rehabs at Boston’s Tower 1 and Philadelphia’s Zoo Interlocking (up to $56.3 million)

Signals, switches, track, power systems, and related infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded at Boston South Station’s Tower 1 ($41.2 million) and Philadelphia’s complex Zoo Interlocking ($15.1 million), where Amtrak’s Keystone and Northeast Corridors intersect.  

Station upgrades at New Orleans ($3.7 million)

Modifications will take place at several New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal platforms.

Other projects included in these grants have been previously reported as they were announced individually, often by local members of Congress. They include funding for three Amtrak Cascades trainsets (see “Feds give Washington State nearly $40 million to replace Talgo equipment,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 22, 2019); station improvements at Newark, N.J., and Providence, R.I. (see “Newark, Providence stations receive funds for upgrades,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 21, 2019); and replacement of a 120-year old bridge used by Metra and Amtrak trains at Milwaukee Avenue on Chicago’s north side (see “Metra receives $17.8-million grant to replace aging bridge,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 22, 2019).

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